Heated Seats Optional
I get lots of press releases emailed to my inbox from the political parties, Congressional offices, campaigns, and interest groups – basically any entity with a vested interest in influencing the political process (and what I might write). I’ve never signed up for any of these mailing lists, but they have all managed to find me through this website.
I actually read all of the press releases. They can provide tremendous insight into the strategic concerns and tactical behavior of key political players. Some of the press releases are mundane, others are clever and informative, and some of course are just plain silly. Occasionally, I come across content in one of them that I just can’t let pass without comment.
The one that caught my eye today comes from the New Hampshire Democratic Party, and asks Republican Senate candidate Kelly Ayotte to take a position on the expansion of federal hate crimes legislation to include sexual orientation. Here is the sentence that got me:
But Ayotte is in a heated Republican primary and has shown a willingness to say anything to get elected, even when it means completely reversing her position on key issues.
Yes, the press release touches on an important policy question, and the “flip-flop” critique is certainly fair game, but a heated Republican primary? Seriously? It is not even clear that Ayotte has any real opposition at this point. She is the only one raising money for her party’s primary, and already has over half a million dollars cash-on-hand. While there has been some muted criticism among state Republican Party elites over her Washington courtship, there has been no pointed criticism of her from any of the other potential candidates.
For a primary race to be heated, you need to see competitive fundraising and sharp rhetorical sparring between candidates. In fact, Ayotte has been able to remain silent on policy precisely because there is no pressure on her from within the Republican Party to clearly stake out her positions, and there is little reason for her to take the bait from the Hodes campaign or NHDP at this early date.

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